American journalists are partly to blame for the recent racist shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, because they continue to perpetuate the old southern racist myth that black Americans are a separate "race" from white Americans. Journalists seem to support the "one drop rule" or "part black all black". For example, they continue to refer to Asian ancestry golfer Tiger Woods as "African American" even though his mother has Asian and Dutch ancestry and his father has Asian, European and North American ancestry as well as African ancestry. These racist journalists even refer to a child who has a black parent and a white parent as "biracial" even though the black parent might have more recent ancestors from Europe and North America than from Africa.
The extremely racist term "African-American" implies that blacks are
Africans living in America rather than Americans with some African
ancestors. The only African ancestors most descendents of
American slaves had left Africa over two centuries ago.
The number of Africans arriving in the United States dropped
substantially after the government banned the importation of slaves
in 1808. Some African ancestors of black Americans left
Africa four centuries ago.
Twenty Africans arrived at Jamestown in August, 1619.
Others had been living in the Spanish controlled areas of what
became Florida, Georgia and South Carolina before the English
established Jamestown or landed at Plymouth Rock. It was the
Spanish who gave the Africans the name "Negro" which is Spanish for
The dark skinned peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa might be of a
different race from the light skinned peoples of northern
Africa and Europe, but Americans have had too much sex across
the color line over the last 400 years to be of different
Sex across the color line in North America has been documented as
far back as the 1630's when African John Punch married a white woman
believed to be an indentured servant. Punch is believed
to be the first permanent slave in Virginia. Previously
"slaves" were called indentured servants and they served for a
specific number of years. His descendents were called
"Bunch" and are believed to include diplomat Ralph Bunche and Stanley Ann Dunham,
the mother of President Barack Obama. The small
population of early Virginia meant that people often had to find
mates across the color line.
In the mid 17th Century slave owners decided to turn the dark
skinned slaves into permanent slaves with white slaves continuing to
be indentured servants. To increase the number of
permanent slaves some slaves owners required white
female slaves to mate with African male slaves so that
the resulting dark skinned babies could be kept as permanent
slaves. The white male slaves would then be left to mate with
African female slaves.
The early Africans began a long association with the various North
American peoples. The first association of an African
with North Americans occurred in 1526. In the English
colonies some villages would accept escaped slaves into the village
and others would not. In the early 19th century the
Cherokee and some others held black slaves.
Virtually all the African ancestors of slaves arrived before
importation of Africans was outlawed in 1808. Only about
500,000 Africans were imported into North America during the
period of the North American slave trade. This number is
significant considering that the total U.S. population in 1790 was
only about 4 million with about 20% or 757,000 blacks.
The only inherent difference between black and white Americans is a
half dozen genes that control skin color. A person can have a
dark complexion even though a majority of skin color genes come from
European ancestors because the genes that code for dark complexion
are dominant and only a couple are needed for a relatively dark
complexion. One of the genes that codes for a dark complexion
is common among peoples of North America and Asia as well as Africa.
The slave genome continued to receive new DNA from plantation owners
and overseers until slavery was ended. The most prominent
example of this practice in the United States was the
relationship between President Thomas Jefferson and his
Southern laws prohibiting sex across the color line were ignored if
the female was black such as in the case of the mother
of Sen. Strom Thurmond's black daughter. Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr., is known to have had a white male ancestor who provided
his "Y" chromosome. In the South white men could rape black women
without fear of prosecution until the 1960's.
It's likely that some children of mixed ancestry were passing for
white by the early 18th Century. Many whites who researched
their ancestry after the "Roots" television series were surprised to
find ancestors whose military records included the letter "C" after
the name for "Colored". President Warren G. Harding
acknowledged he had some black ancestors. Some believe that four
white presidents may have had African ancestors.
It is particularly likely that President
Abraham Lincoln got his dark curly hair from a black ancestor.
Many of his contemporaries believed he had slave
ancestors. Most white people who have African ancestors
probably don't know it because that type of information usually was
kept secret when a person passed for white.
It's time we Americans recognize that America is not the home of a
black race and a white race, but instead is the home of a single
race whose ancestors were red and yellow, black and white.
Those who are serious about eliminating racism need to begin by
eliminating racist terms like "African-American" and racist myths
like the idea colors separate us into different races. They need to
concentrate on how we are the same rather than how we are
different. We need to recognize the wisdom of the Lakota
Oyasin (We Are All Related) .
Black leaders along with politicians and journalists should forget
the spurious issue of the Confederate flag. As the great
grandson of a Union army veteran, I don't really understand why
southerners have a fascination with the flag, but it is not
inherently a symbol of racism. I've always understood it has a
defiance of authority. Eliminating the flag will do
absolutely nothing to eliminate racism. The action might
actually encourage violent racists. With one violent act a
coward terrorized the black population of the south. Racists
may think that all they will have to do is wave a confederate flag
and black people will hide under their beds. Normal people
don't understand that some people, especially some men, would rather
be a pariah then a nobody.
Eliminating the flag will make the little coward who committed
murder in God's House a major hero among his kind and a major
historical figure. He will be mentioned in history books as
the man who caused southern states to change their flags. To
borrow a quote from the late Paul Harvey: "he [the killer] would
want me to mention his name."